Articles in English 105
Yuri N. Maltsev
November 5, 2015
Our booming green-industrial complex built up by administrations of both parties in the US is effectively using the United Nations, its thirty two “sister” institutions — such as the World Bank, UNESCO, and numerous “tribunals” — and hundreds of training and research centers. This huge international bureaucratic buildup is already employing over a million “international civil servants” to administer what our socialist visionaries hope will become the world government of the future.
September 22, 2015
In a recent Labor Day speech to union workers in Illinois, Hillary Clinton declared that if she is elected president of the United States, she would make sure that “some employers go to jail for wage theft and all the other abuses they engage in.” Her incendiary comments were obvious “red meat” for the audience, but it also helped to clarify her own economic views and how she would govern if elected.
September 1, 2015
This talk by Mises Institute President Jeff Deist was delivered on June 19, 2015 at a lunchtime meeting of the Grassroot Institute in Honolulu at the Pacific Club. The talk was part of the Mises Institute’s Private Seminar series for lay audiences. To schedule your own Private Seminar with a Mises Institute speaker, please contact Kristy Holmes at the Mises Institute.
July 23, 2015
Many investors still view gold as a safe-haven investment, but there remains much confusion regarding the extent to which the gold market is vulnerable to manipulation through short-term rigged market trades, and long-arm central bank interventions. First, it remains unclear whether or not much of the gold that is being sold as shares and in certificates actually exists. Second, paper gold can theoretically be printed into infinity just like regular currency — although private-sector paper-gold sellers have considerably less leeway in this regard than central banks. Third, new electronic gold pricing — replacing, as of this past February, the traditional five-bank phone-call of the London Gold Fix in place since 1919 — has not necessarily proved a more trustworthy model. Fourth, there looms the specter of the central bank, particularly in the form of volume trading discounts that commodity exchanges offer them.
July 20, 2015
In May, the US unemployment rate stood at 5.5 percent against the rate of 5.3 percent for the “natural unemployment,” also known as the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU).
According to the popular view, once the actual unemployment rate falls to below the NAIRU, or the natural unemployment rate, the rate of inflation tends to accelerate and economic activity becomes overheated. (This acceleration in the rate of inflation takes place through increases in the demand for goods and services. It also lifts the demand for workers and puts pressure on wages, reinforcing the growth in inflation).
July 3, 2015
Greece cannot pay its debts ... ever. Nor can several other members of the European Union. That’s why Europe’s elite are loath to place Greece in default. If Greece is allowed to abrogate its debts, why should any of the other debtor members of the EU pay up? The financial consequences of massive default by most of the EU members is hard to predict, but it won't be pretty. Europe has built a financial house of cards, and the slightest loss of confidence will bring it crashing down.
The tragedy of Europe has socialism at its core. Europe has flirted with socialism since the late nineteenth century. Nineteenth century Bismarckian socialism produced two world wars. Leninist socialism slaughtered and enslaved hundreds of millions until it collapsed, mercifully without a third world war. Yet, not to be deterred, in the ashes of World War II, Europe’s socialists embarked on a new socialist dream. If socialism fails in one country, perhaps it will succeed if all of Europe joined a supra-national socialist organization. Oh, they don't call what has evolved from this dream “socialism,” but it is socialism nonetheless.
Socialism will not work, whether in one country, a multi-state region such as Europe, or the entire world. Ludwig von Mises explained that socialism is not an alternative economic system. It is a program for consumption. It tells us nothing about economic production. Since each man's production must be distributed to all of mankind, there is no economic incentive to produce anything, although there may be the incentive of coercion and threats of violence. Conversely, free market capitalism is an economic system of production, whereby each man owns the product of his own labors and, therefore, has great economic incentives to produce both for himself, his family, and has surplus goods to trade for the surplus product of others. Even under life and death threats neither the socialist worker nor his overseer would know what to produce, how to produce it, or in what quantities and qualities. These economic cues are the product of free market capitalism and money prices.
Under capitalism, man specializes to produce trade goods for the product of others. This is just one way of stating Say’s Law; i.e., that production precedes consumption and that production itself creates demand. For example, a farmer may grow some corn for his family to consume or to feed to his own livestock, but he sells most of his corn on the market in exchange for money with which to buy all the many other necessities and luxuries of life. His corn crop is his demand and money is simply the indirect medium of exchange.
Keynes attempted to deny Say’s Law, claiming that demand itself — created artificially by central bank money printing — would spur production. He attempted, illogically and unsuccessfully, to place consumption ahead of production. To this day Keynes is very popular with spendthrift politicians, to whom he bestowed a moral imperative to spend money that they did not have.
We see the result of 150 years of European socialism playing out in grand style in Greece today. The producing countries are beginning to realize that they have been robbed by the EU’s socialist guarantee that no nation will be allowed to default on its bonds. Greece merely accepted this guarantee at face value and spent itself into national bankruptcy. Other EU nations are not far behind. It’s time to give free market capitalism and sound money a chance: it’s worked every time it’s been tried.
The Greek drama continues to unfold with the risk of “grexit” becoming increasingly likely. Yet, a large majority of the Greek people want to keep the euro. This, however, would require the Greek government to live within its means — something it has not been able to do for decades. With anti-austerity parties gaining strength continent wide, Greece may be the first, but not the last, to leave.
In a world of private property rights, where the contracts that derive from those rights must be honored, there would be no controversy about the rights of corporate “stakeholders.” Owners of capital resources pool them and delegate day-to-day control to corporate management as their agents. The only stakeholders those delegated agents agree to represent are the owners of those resources (i.e., the shareholders).
June 10, 2015
But can the debate really be as one-sided as I portray it? Well, look at the results: again and again, people on the opposite side prove to have used bad logic, bad data, the wrong historical analogies, or all of the above. I’m Krugtron the Invincible!
Thus wrote the great Paul Krugman. A man so modest as to proclaim that “I think I can say without false modesty, a huge win; I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.”
May 28, 2015
The ECB is now two months into its bond buying binge but the European Central Bank (ECB) never clearly explained the goal and purpose of its own version of quantitative easing. The deflation bogeyman was never a serious threat, nor was it based on any solid theoretical foundation.
Christopher P. Casey
GDP purports to measure economic activity while largely divorcing itself from the quality, profitability, depth, breadth, improvement, advancement, and rationalization of goods and services provided.
For example, even if a ship — built at great expense — cruised without passengers, fished without success, or ferried without cargo; it nevertheless contributed to GDP. Profitable for investors or stranded in the sand; it added to GDP. Plying the seas or rusting into an orange honeycomb shell; the nation's GDP grew.1
April 18, 2015
[Adapted from a lecture presented at the Mises Institute's Sound Money Conference, April 10, 2014.]
The word "inflation" means different things to different people. One popular conception of inflation focuses on prices — all prices, actually. For these people, including some economists, "inflation" means a rise in the general price level, i.e., the goods and services we buy have higher price tags.
March 4, 2015
The ECB decision to limit liquidity to Greek banks was another nail in the euro-coffin, and rumors of a "Grexit" caused bank withdrawals to accelerate. Over 25 billion euros have been withdrawn from Greek banks since the end of November 2014. But there's a problem. Fractional-reserve Greek banks do not have the funds to cover all the withdrawals if trends continue. Current non-performing bank loans in Greece are close to 40 percent and banks hold large amounts of high risk Greek government debt.
February 20, 2015
Those of us who have reached a certain age remember the late 80s and early 90s when we were told that the Japanese were taking over the world. We bought their cars. We played their video games. We used their technology for pretty much everything. The Japanese were destined for world domination, we were told. They were better team players. They put more emphasis on the group than on the individual. They worked harder. In 1992, a high-ranking Japanese politician, Yoshio Sakurauchi, declared that Americans are "too lazy" to compete with Japanese workers, and that a third of American workers "cannot even read." Michael Crichton's 1992 novel Rising Sun (and the 1993 movie adaptation) fueled these controversies further in the minds of many Americans.
The European Central Bank's (ECB) decision to shortly print over 1 trillion euros has reignited concerns over currency wars. The euro has dropped almost 20 percent over the last six months after endless hints from the ECB.
We are in a currency war, and have been since 2008. Our current global monetary system is deeply flawed in spite of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was supposedly created to foster monetary cooperation and financial stability. Yet, the IMF has been eerily silent lately, which has not gone unnoticed by those who butter the IMF's bread.
John P. Cochran
February 2, 2015
Pierre Lemieux wrote an indispensable book (Somebody in Charge: A Solution to Recession) for anyone who wishes to understand the before, during, and immediate aftermath of the "Great Recession."
The book's importance is greater than just his analysis of the crisis. He thoroughly exposes the underlying weaknesses and fallacies of the whole Keynesian policy-activism agenda driven by the "animal spirits," the irresistible urge to action of those who wrongly deem themselves in charge.
Jason L. Kopelman and Harvey S. Rosen
January 21, 2015
As government budgets have tightened in the aftermath of the Great Recession, increased scrutiny has been placed upon the compensation received by public-sector workers. Commentators such as Zuckerman (2010) have suggested that public-sector workers are overpaid, while others such as Allegretto and Keefe (2010) have argued that their compensation packages are appropriate, particularly because they tend to have more education than their private-sector counterparts. Most of the focus has been on wage and salary differentials, although pension benefits have also received some attention (Bewerunge and Rosen 2012). However, a compensation package consists of nonpecuniary as well as pecuniary components. An important nonpecuniary benefit is job security. Assuming that workers are risk averse, jobs that offer more security are worth more than those that offer less, ceteris paribus.
January 17, 2015
You can fix your currency or you run independent monetary policy. But you cannot do both at the same time. In spectacular fashion, the Swiss government finally capitulated and decided control over the money supply was more important than a fixed rate against the euro. The Swiss franc rocketed up 30 percent in value minutes after the central bank's decision to let the currency float.
January 8, 2015
Zimbabwe hit the headlines in the 2000s due to its extraordinary inflation rate, peaking at a monthly rate of 79.6 billion percent in November 2008. The hyperinflation was a result of Robert Mugabe's government's printing of excess money in order to finance government corruption as well as involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As one would expect, Zimbabwe was a point of interest for monetary economists due to its extraordinary rate of inflation. However, more recently, Zimbabwe has become a fascinating example of an economy operating with concurrent currencies, but has received little to no attention from academic economists.
Peter St. Onge
December 29, 2014
A recent article in the left-leaning Independent argued that student volunteers are useless. In one project putting UK college students to work building a local school, the work was so awful that local Ugandan masons "dismantled the structurally unsound work [the students] had done — relaying bricks and resetting timbers whilst the students slept."
"Giving back" is big these days, but how can we know if we're really making a contribution, or if we, like those students, are just tourists who need cleaning up after.